The following is an excerpt from an article called Small Investments With Major Returns by Brett Arends. I thought it was pretty interesting. To read the full article go here. The article gives tips on "investments" and how they can save you money. The parts in dark green bold are my thoughts.
There's no such thing as a hot stock tip right now, but these small investments could add thousands to your bottom line.
- Buy a bread maker. You can buy one for $55. If it saves you just $4 a week on store-bought bread, that's $208 a year. A 280% return. I have one and use it ALL THE TIME. I have not done a cost comparison, but I am sure that we have saved money this way. We do not buy white bread or even the whole wheat bread . . . we usually only get whole grain bread. So using a bread maker helps save a bunch for us. Just one tip: do not bake the bread in the bread maker. The bread comes out better when you bake it in the oven. Also, another thing I have learned; you can make most breads in the bread maker. It does not have to be a "bread maker recipe".
- Get a credit card with a great sign-up bonus. Like the AirTran Visa card. Cost: The $40 annual fee. After your first purchase you get enough reward miles for a free flight, saving maybe $250. Then cancel the card. Return: 525%. I am a Dave Ramsey fan and he says that you should NOT use credit cards. I would skip this "investment" and avoid the temptation of a new credit card.
- Take out a local library card. Cost: Nothing. If it saves you $10 a month on books, that's $120 a year. Return: Infinite. Note: Some libraries now let you borrow electronic books over the Internet as well. I LOVE the library . . . it is our primary source for books!! You can find so much at the library. And even if your library does not have the book, most belong to a county and statewide network and if another library has it, your librarian can put it on hold for you.
- Replace your premium cable package with a Netflix subscription and a $100 set-top box. You can download movies and TV programs as well getting DVDs through the mail. Cost: $100 for the cheapest set-top box, plus $17 a month for a three-movie subscription. If it replaces a $50-a-month cable package, that's a 98% return on investment. We do not have cable, nor have we had it since we bought our house. I must admit, I thought I would miss it, but I do not. Because we had an antenna, we did not get great reception and many channels did not come in, so we did not watch much TV. For Christmas, we were given an HDTV!! Now we get more channels (my husband loves the fact that he can actually see the football game now!) even though we do not have cable. Another thought on this point . . . skip the Netflix subscription and get movies from the library. Most local libraries carry new release DVDs and there is no rental fee!! There is usually a large selection of movies with many children's DVDs and family movies. Another $17 a month saved!!
- Order a packet of seeds and plant them in a window box or garden. Growing your own herbs, spices, and even vegetables – depending on the amount of space you have – is a great investment. If you spent just $10 on seeds and saved a mere $50 in the year, that's a 400% ROI. Have not tried this. I would love to have a garden. I think it would be a fun project that J could help with. Maybe this year!
- Switch to a prepaid cellphone. Cost: $20 for the phone, and maybe $100 a year for minutes. Move the rest of your talk-time to free Internet calls, and stop hemorrhaging $60 a month on a cellular plan. ROI: 500% We have discussed this one for months now. My husband's cell phone is essential and he uses it all the time. Even though we do not have long distance on our land line, I do not use my phone a lot. Because of this, we are considering getting rid of my phone, and I would use a prepaid cell phone. Hubby would keep his phone, but switch to a cheaper plan. After looking at plans and prepaid phones, we could save about $20 a month.
- Start making your own coffee to take to work each morning. Cost: $20 for a Thermos, $10 for a filter and papers, and $60 a year for ground coffee. Then skip the $4 a day drive-thru. If that saves you $1,000 a year, the return is more than 1,000 %. Since I am a SAHM, this is not an issue. I do love a Dunkin Donuts coffee every once in a while, but I make my coffee at home. If you love lattes, etc . . . check out freecycle or go out and buy an espresso and cappuccino maker. I got a really nice small one off of freecycle and I LOVE to use it on weekends. Another tip with coffee; if you have any left over from a morning, put it in a container and store it in the refrigerator. Within a day you have enough for an iced coffee. This is my favorite thing to do with extra coffee in the summer.